Leveraging volunteering programmes to retain happy employees
By Joanne van der Walt, Director of Sage Foundation
Before the pandemic, employees were looking for a greater sense of purpose from their jobs and higher levels of social responsibility from their employers.
The COVID-19 economic and health crisis has only amplified this trend, with people worldwide expecting their employers to do more for causes and communities that matter.
Leading organisations are sitting up and taking note.
They recognise that corporate philanthropy and volunteering can ensure benefits for colleagues and the beneficiaries of these initiatives.
A well-coordinated and executed volunteering programme can help drive higher levels of employee engagement, motivation, satisfaction, and retention.
Corporate philanthropy is gaining momentum across the Middle East, with concerted efforts being rolled out in areas encompassing region-wide priorities such as sustainability, educational equity, and gender equality.
This is not surprising when you consider that most people feel a sense of purpose from helping others.
Giving makes people happy
To understand why volunteering can be such a powerful tool in engaging with and motivating employees, it’s worth looking through the lens of industrial psychologist Frederick Herzberg.
He argues that ticking ‘hygiene’ boxes like competitive pay and benefits, good working conditions, and decent job security can help prevent employees from becoming unhappy.
However, these basics are not enough to make people genuinely experience a sense of fulfilment in the workplace.
To achieve higher satisfaction and engagement levels, employers need to focus on motivational factors such as giving people a greater sense of purpose and significance in their jobs.
A corporate philanthropy or volunteering programme contributes immensely to an employee’s sense that their work is meaningful.
Furthermore, it enables companies to help people connect to a purpose beyond chasing the next quarterly sales target or getting through a stack of paperwork.
Such initiatives are a great way to build a rapport within teams, which in turn fosters higher levels of collaboration and helps drive the organisational culture.
Reducing workplace stress
What’s more, volunteering can help reduce stress for employees during these difficult times.
Breaking from the office routine and doing something positive for communities can help ensure higher levels of mental and physical well-being for employees.
Doing good for communities releases endorphins in the giver’s body, leading to a feeling of exhilaration followed by a sense of calm.
One study found that 78% of volunteers say participating in philanthropic endeavours lowers their stress levels.
These benefits can help boost employee engagement as well as individual and team morale and performance. This is why companies that are not involving employees in their volunteering programmes might be missing a beat.
While giving is always positive, volunteering ensures a significantly broader impact for the business, its beneficiaries, and employees when compared to writing donation cheques or running fundraisers.
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